Business Security

The business world is in a constant state of evolution and change. While this may be good news for consumers, it may also make it difficult for some companies. However, there are some small changes that may make a big difference to any company regardless of size or manpower. There are two different types of changes you may want to consider. The first being investing in internal changes such as PBX phone systems that may help your operation become more efficient. The second being external changes that your customers will see such as adjusting your marketing plan.

Work from the Outside In

Customers create foot traffic. Foot traffic keeps the doors open and the lights on for your company. The question is how do you create that traffic? Marketing is an area where larger companies may have a slight edge on the smaller counterparts. However, there are still things that smaller companies can do to help turn consumer curiosity into customer traffic.

Creating and maintaining a strong, professional online appearance is especially important in today’s society. While many forms of traditional media, such as newspapers have seen their numbers drop, social media continues to expand on an almost daily basis. Even Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference In Your Businessif the company owner chooses not to engage in social media during their personal time, it can be a crucial tool for business marketing.

If you have a staff large enough, you may want to give one person the responsibility to create, maintain and update your company’s social media information. It is also important to remind your employees that they are an extension of your company so you want them to reflect a positive company image on social media platforms.

Consider becoming a sponsor or at least a participant in community events. Social media sites as well as your own company website are a great way to reach the masses. However, to show your potential customers closer to home that you care, you may want to consider sponsoring or participating in community events. If your area hosts fairs and festivals you can become a vendor for these locations as well.

Remember to keep in mind that everybody’s marketing budget and abilities is going to be different. Become as visible as you can, but make sure to stay within your means so that you do not ultimately cut into your profits.

Update behind the Scenes 

While your workforce is interacting with current and potential customers, it may also be a good time to make some small changes behind the scenes as well. Look at your current operations and ask yourself, is there any way that we can run more efficiently? These changes could be as simple as rearranging the office. The answer to your question may also lead you to investing in equipment such as PBX phone systems that may enhance your customer’s call experience as well as make interoffice communication easier.

Whether you are going to create an online presence or update your office equipment to make things run more efficiently, small changes can make a big difference.

See Also : Biggest Challenges Facing New Businesses

Customer Service

Before we proceed, let me ask you, what do you think is a major factor in a business’ success? If you say that it is the quality of the products or services, I will agree with you to some degree. But I think there’s a factor even more important than that. And that is customer service.

Your customers are what makes your business a success. Without customers supporting and patronizing your business, you won’t have any income, and certainly won’t have any recurring income.

What this means to you is that your customers should be of utmost priority. It’s not just about giving their money’s worth, but it is how you take care of them before and after they purchase from you. Customers want to feel that you value them, so by providing high quality customer service, they remain loyal to your brand.

Improving Customer Service

I’m sure you’ve had your share of bad experiences with customer service representatives as well. And it sure did leave a bad taste in your mouth. It’s very frustrating not to be treated properly after buying a company’s product or service. This is what your customers feel as well. Whether you own a small or large business, taking care of the needs of your customers should be a number one priority.

Thanks to the technology today, improving customer service is a simpler task than it was 10 years ago. There are numerous online tools that you can utilize and integrate into your business.

ZenDesk

ZenDesk is an online customer support system. It has a ticket support software and a helpdesk functionality that can help ensure that all your customers’ requests are handled in a timely and organized manner.

Trouble Ticket Express

Trouble Ticket Express is similar to ZenDesk. You can monitor and track customer ticket statuses. Also, you can track customer correspondence with this tool.

Kayako

Kayako is an online tool that helps companies improve on the delivery of their customer support through different channels. Use Kayako to provide support to your customers through Facebook, Twitter, the website, phone and email.

osTicket

osTicket is a support ticket system that is easily integrated with email, phone and web-based forms. You can organize and manage all ticket support requests in just one tool.

Live Help Now

8 Online Tools For Providing Better Customer ServiceLive Help Now is a help desk solution that gives you a Live Chat System, Callback Management System, Trouble Ticket System and Support System management.

Desk.com

Desk.com is an all-in-one customer service application that helps you with every area of customer service. The application focused on four major parts:

  • The Universal Inbox – all your inboxes (email, social media, phone) are organized and queued,
  • Case Management – keeps track of customer cases (past and present),
  • Productivity Tools – no more time-consuming tasks to deal with,
  • Customer Profiles – conveniently check all past and present interactions with customers, as well as who the customer is.

Zopim

Zopim is all about having live conversations with your customers and visitors. Zopim offers a widget that you can place on your website where you can chat with customers in real-time. Thus, helping you address the concerns and needs of your customers promptly.

UserVoice

UserVoice is a feedback and online help desk software. It helps you with taking care of feature requests, as well as monitoring online tickets. Their engagement tool has feedback forums where customers can discuss their ideas. Also, the software allows you to answer inquiries quickly through their support systems.

Some of the tools are free to download while some offer a 14-day to 30-day free trial period. Try each one out and see what tool will suit your needs best.

Advocacy is becoming a useful marketing tool and more organisations are starting to run an advocate program. New online tools are emerging to get the best out of this technique; they can really turn your advocacy marketing into a strategy that pays. But advocacy is not just a powerful marketing tool; it’s also a great platform to launch market research.

What is Advocate Marketing

In a nutshell, advocate marketing describes running an advocate program – something that encourages and/ or rewards people for participating in marketing your product. It’s similar to the web concept of affiliate marketing.

There are three types of advocate:

  • Paid advocates are groups you pay money to to spread information. This can take the form of blogs, podcast sponsorship and similar appropriate channels.
  • Owned advocates are groups of people with a stake in the success of your product. This could be employees, suppliers, business partners etc.
  • The final type of advocate is the earned advocate. These are essentially satisfied people and organisations that want to engage with your brand.

For advocate marketing to be truly effective, earned advocates need to be signed up as quickly as possible and encouraged to continually engage with your organisation.

How Can Advocate Marketing Help Market Research

How Advocate Marketing Can Benefit Your Market ResearchAs market researchers, the group we are most interested in is the earned advocates. These represent people with a unique perspective on our company and our product. Earned advocates have already had a good experience with our company and in all likelihood are existing customers.
More importantly, they are signed up to an advocate program – that means they are keen to engage with the business in a constructive manner and guide future decision making. This instantly makes them a group of people to perform market research on.

What’s more, engaging our advocates in market research will benefit the advocate program by making them feel less like customers and more like partners.

What Type of Insights Can Be Gleaned from Advocates

As our earned advocates probably have a positive view of our products and services, they represent a research group which have a greater depth of knowledge about our business than a lay person. This makes them perfect for asking questions about specific features, ideas and tools in our product.

Our advocates are also groups of people with different levels of experience with our products and services. Fresh advocates will be able to represent the people with good first impressions of the product and can tell us what we are doing right when it comes to attracting new customers.

Long term advocates will be able tell us what we need to improve our product and guide how we develop it further.

Completing the Cycle

Our advocates can be encouraged to pass back information regarding responses to our marketing strategies which they participate in. That helps us close the feedback loop.

Granted, advocate programs are not for all organisations, but if the marketing team in your business run one, you should try and see how your market research can fit in. If not, you should at least find out why; it could be a powerful marketing and market research tool your business is missing out on.

online business

Many small businesses today rely on the Internet to help them operate from day to day. Whether it’s for backup, marketing, web development, or support, there are plenty of online tools that can do the job. Many of these tools have both free and paid versions; depending on what they will be used for.

Storage and Backup

Google Drive

Google Drive is great for storing and editing files such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Users can create folders, share them, and comment and collaborate on one another’s work. There is even a chat feature that is very helpful to increase communication between users. The most enticing feature of Google Drive is that 15GB of storage space is offered for each account. No longer will you have to worry about storage limits for your files.

Dropbox

Dropbox also allows the storage and sharing of files but that is its main purpose. The account storage limit starts with 2GB but can be increased up to 18GB as long as enough people join under that account. One very neat feature that small businesses can benefit from is that Dropbox allows hosting of html websites. This is very ideal for testing a website without using hosting space.

Marketing

Google Adwords

For years, Google Adwords has been the top ad-serving platform for both large and small businesses. There are many coupons that can be used to help a business get started for a very little cost. Inside Adwords, you have the ability to choose keywords based on niches such as “Cheap Handbags”. Then a price is set and, depending on how high you bid per click, Google will feature your ad for that keyword. For local small businesses, a specific area can be targeted which can have a big impact on the clicks to sales ratio.

Top Free And Paid Tools For Your Small BusinessMailChimp

Newsletters have been the top way for getting word out to customers about the newest products, sales, or news. So instead of having customers come from just ads traffic, they can be enticed back with email marketing. MailChimp offers many creative newsletter templates and lots of customization options for the user. The great thing about MailChimp is that it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails per month, which should be plenty for a small business.

Web Development

Blogger

For years, Blogger has been one of the top blogging platforms today and for good reason. There are thousands of free templates around which can be customized to the users’ wishes. Many small businesses use Blogger to host their blogs simply because:

  1. It’s free
  2. Has an easy to use interface
  3. It has lots of customizing potential

Weebly

Weebly offers the best click and drag experience making it easy for any novice to create beautiful websites. With a good variety of templates and plenty of web elements to add, Weebly ranks as one of the best click and drag web-designing platforms around. Weebly offers 2 plans, free and pro which is great, because any small business can create a website and go pro once they feel that it works for them.

Support

GetSatisfaction

GetSatisfaction is a great business to customer platform that allows small businesses to quickly help solve customer issues while also getting valuable feedback. The price is steep, however, starting at $425 for the Small Business Edition. It can be integrated with helpdesk and other programs, which makes it very streamlined and easy to use.

Google Forms

If a small business is on a tight budget, then Google Forms should do the job. It allows businesses and users to create surveys that can reveal detailed graphs depending on the amount of people that took the survey. The best part is that it’s free and very easy to use, especially when combined with Google Drive.

As you can see, there are many online tools that can help managers to make their small business succeed. While some are free and some paid, these tools are considered priceless to many businesses. With the Internet growing day by day, it is essential for small businesses to make use of all of these tools to maximize their profits and reach more customers.

See Also : Some Important Apps For Your Small Business

Money

If you are a small business owner it is a good idea to start thinking about the option of outsourcing your payroll services to an outside company. Managing your own business payroll can be quite a time-consuming task and it is often much more cost effective to go with an outside company.

Here are some tips to ensure you choose the right company.

Think What You Need

There are so many different payroll companies out there and thus it is important to think about what your business needs from the company and the service.

It is a good idea to write down the key things that you want from the payroll company and then use this as the guideline when you are looking for the right company.

Knowing what you need is important not just for ensuring you get the right amount of service but also to guarantee you don’t end up paying for services that you don’t even need.

The Price Of The Service

Of course it is also important to think about the price. You have to both think how much are you able to pay for the service and also see what you are able to get for that amount of money with specific companies.

Don’t think that it isn’t worth investing into a good company when it comes to payroll. Payroll management is an important part of a successful business and if it isn’t handled the right way you can quickly notice problems in many areas of the business. Thus always opt for quality service that you can afford.

Make sure you also make the company provide you a clear list of the expenses that they charge for. You don’t want to end up signing a contract and then get hidden fees to pay for. Get it all in writing before you sign the contract.

Tips For Choosing A Payroll CompanyPay Attention To Customer Service

When you are looking for a payroll company you need to pay special attention to the customer service you are getting. You don’t want to go with a company that isn’t able and committed to providing you a quality service and answering your specific questions.

Killer Start Ups recommends you must ask the company questions before signing the contract in order to really test their customer service skills and ensure you are able to receive a quality service.

Look For Companies Online

It is a good idea to go on the internet when you are looking for a payroll company to help your business. Searching for business payroll services is really easy and you can usually get a lot of hits when you also include your location to the search. Companies such as Friendly Accountants also offer online services and it is worth contacting these companies as well.

You can usually find recommendations online as well and it is a good idea to read customer reviews about various companies before you commit yourself into one.

When you do pick out a payroll company it is essential to make sure you get the contract in writing before you sign it and spend enough time to read it through.

Technology

Whether it’s Facebook, laptops, or iPads, the world today is one utterly reliant on technology.  That’s why we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the key types of tech in the world, and to imagine exactly what would happen to the global industry if they were to suddenly disappear.

Social media

Out of all the technologies on the web, this one is perhaps the easiest to answer.  After all, companies existed long before Google, Facebook and Twitter became legitimate marketing tools.  (As recently as 2004, in fact, the latter two simply didn’t exist.) Companies could survive without social media.  Though there are a few firms that have absolutely nailed this medium (all hail Old Spice and the Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign), a great many of them still rely on simply forwarding memes and doing their own mediocre version of whatever viral hit is doing the rounds.

Computers

This one largely comes down to the business, and whether or not it’s a blue-collar or white-collar one.  Is Trev, an electrician from inner city Birmingham, going to lose much sleep if he can’t access his e-mails?  Probably not.  But he might lose a lot of business from those that rely on theirs!  Even the retail sector – which has in some senses been destroyed by computers and the internet – would have to go back to old fashioned, calculator style tills and keeping their accounts by the book.  Whether or not the world would be a worse place as a result, though, is another matter.

Mobile phones

This is a more interesting point.  There is very little disputing the fact that mobile phones allow businesses to thrive in a way that they couldn’t have done before.  Employees are able to pick up customers all day, every day, and can easily access e-mails on the move.  However, if all mobile phones literally stopped working full-stop, and everyone had to go back to traditional landlines, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the world would actually be fine.  Sure, customers would only be able to get hold of people when they were actually in the office, but is that really such a bad thing? It’s not like the work wouldn’t get done!

File-sharing and cloud technology

The ability to ping a presentation across the globe in seconds is, undoubtedly, useful.  However, once again it’s hard to deny that if companies were suddenly forced to rely on snail mail (and the very fact it’s called that is a reflection on technology itself), the task at hand would still be completed.  There would undoubtedly be far fewer meetings (shame). There would be fewer Powerpoint presentations.  Travel time would go up.  But would a lack of cloud technology actually stop an accountant from finishing his accounts, or a copywriter completing that case study?  No.

TV

You could make a legitimate argument that without television, the consumer society as it exists today would be non-existent.  There certainly wouldn’t be any people out there who were famous for being famous.  The Only Way is Essex would be an idea that some guy had someday, before chiding himself for coming up with such a concept.  In a business sense, TV would only be a loss to the large chains.  After all, small shops can’t afford to pay for a TV advert; they’d have to rely on word of mouth.  Hilariously, if television was to suddenly disappear, Jenny’s bakery in Stoke would be less affected than Tesco.

Fortunately, technology seems to be sticking around.  That doesn’t mean, though, that it wouldn’t be intriguing to see the remnants of the business world if it suddenly disappeared!

See Also : Why Would IT Training Benefit My Business

If you collaborate with a team within a large business organization, you likely need to maintain constant communication throughout the day. This can be one of the best ways to make sure that a project gets done on time. Think about whether you may be able to get linked in to a business mail server soon. This is one of the most effective ways to maintain constant communication with your own team. They can often be customized and changes to help make sure that you are getting the right support that you need. Take a look at some of the services that can be integrated in to one of these packages for your business.

Communicate With Different Mediums

First and foremost, you should make sure that your business mail service offers a full range of different messaging styles. This is What Exactly IS A Business Mail Server And What Does It Dobecause the purpose of a business mail service is to increase communications between colleagues and partners. You will want to have as many different messaging tools that you can get. See if you can get an electronic mail service set up within your office sometime soon. This is often the most efficient way for a team to collaborate on large scale projects. It can also just help keep team members on track with what they working to complete.

Professional Business Messaging System

You might be wondering what sets these business mail servers apart from other messaging systems out there. The difference is that business mail servers are often fully dedicated to providing a professional messaging system that will support your projects. You won’t need to worry about spam messages infiltrating the way that your team collaborates together. Think about how you can use these anti-spam and anti-virus tools to keep your inbox free from clutter. This is often very appealing to managers and team members, who simply want to use their message system without distractions.

Top Security To Keep Your Projects Secret

These business mail servers are also very secure, which is likely appealing to people running projects out there. They won’t want to let any information slip out to competing organizations or teams. You can set up a business mail server that will be fully What Exactly IS A Business Mail Server And What Does It Dodedicated to the task at hand for your team. Messages and announcements will only be viewed on people who have been hand selected to join in on this business mail server. These messages will also not be copied and mailed out by a third party spam service. This can help give your team the confidence that it needs to communicate effectively about a project at all times of the day.

Finally, don’t forget that you can often get enhanced tech support when you set up one of these business mail servers for your office. These companies often host dedicated customer support centers to help answer questions about anything that may come up for your team. If you feel confused about how to communicate a message, you can contact this team at any time of the day. Think about how this could help your entire team stay on track as it heads towards its objective. You will have total professional support when you sign up for a business mail service.

 See Also : Reasons Your Direct Mail Is Failing

Using technology to market and run your business is a smart way towards success. The advent of apps has made it particularly easier for people to run their businesses with just a tap of the phone. In this article we present to you some of the apps for small businesses that can make your company dealing a whole lot easier.

Google Drive

Google Drive provides a safe platform for sharing files. It provides files’ access to multiple users so that they can create a new file, edit it and save comments on it while collaborating with other employees at the same time. The best part about this app is that you can access it from any device; therefore, you can have your documents anywhere you need. You can purchase a business plan on this app by paying $5 monthly and you will get to have 30-GB of data storage.

Evernote

Whether you want to clip out information from a website or an email, store an audio recording or save a picture you can do so on the digital notepad ‘Evernote.’  This app makes digital note sharing easy. Like Google drive you can log on to Evernote from any device and make it easier for your employees and business associates to share notes. You just need to have your log in ID and password. This app for small business will save you the trouble of passing notes from door to door!

Appointment Plus

This app for small business can make your appointment management easy. This app allows you to store your appointments and details of your clients. Moreover, you can use it to cancel or alter the appointments anytime you want. By adjusting the settings of the app you can send automated reminders of the meeting to your clients as well. Technology can sure make your life trouble-free!

Dropbox

Cloud based storage system can save you from the trouble of handling files, sorting them out and arranging them. Save yourself from the possible daily mishaps and store your data on the cloud! Dropbox is considered one of the best file hosting apps that allows the storage of data in almost every form. In November 2012, this app for small business’ users extended beyond 100 million users. It gives you the benefit of having files on the go!

Tripit

This app for small businesses is for those people who need to travel a lot. It can help them to keep track of their flights and other travel arrangements. Plus, you can acquire maps, weather forecasts and road directions from this app to make your trip easier.

InDinero

Managing business finances can be a very tough task and InDinero can help you with that. You can synchronize this app with your bank account and credit cards and keep track of the day to day dealings. It’s hard to trust people when it comes to money but you can trust the technology to make your finance management error free!

These apps have benefited several small businesses, is your organization ready to try them out?

IT Training

IT training is extremely beneficial to businesses in a number of ways. Many employers are a little put off by the expense of IT training or the fact that staff will need to take time out of the office. However, despite the initial costs to the business, IT training can be incredibly beneficial in the long run, making it a worthwhile investment.

IT training can also be flexible, as you can choose from one to one training, a one off day course which teaches all of your staff on site or a course which your whole workforce attend. As an employer, you can choose whether you prefer to take all of our staff out of the office at the same time or carry out all training at once.

Improving on employee weakness

All employees, no matter how skilled will have some weaknesses in the workplace. By training your staff in IT, you can ensure that all employees are trained to the same level, evening out any weakness. All staff will be brought up to the same level. Some staff may already have experience using software whilst others may not. It also prevents certain staff from relying on others to do certain tasks due to a lack of knowledge. With decent IT training, all staff are knowledgeable and able to carry out tasks to the same level.

Increasing consistency across the board

With structured and good quality IT training, all staff will have consistent knowledge and experience using different types of software. It is important for all employees to understand the expectations that their employers have and to adhere to them. What may come naturally to some employees may not come naturally to others, so IT training is an effective way to improve consistency in the office when it comes to the skills of different members of staff.

Why Would IT Training Benefit My BusinessImproving the satisfaction of your employees

When you provide your staff with training opportunities, they are at an advantage compared to other companies where staff may be left to find training themselves. When employees are provided with training by their employer, it makes them feel valued as their employer is keen to see them succeed and do well. IT training makes the workplace a much more supportive environment for staff. In many cases, staff will be given IT training that they wouldn’t otherwise have received, making staff appreciate their employers and giving staff the chance to enjoy a challenge.

Improving your employee’s success

When an employee is given IT training to help with their role, they will be more successful in that role. Employees may also be more confident due to their new knowledge which could result in better overall performance, benefiting both the employee and employer. Your staff will have a deeper understanding of their job with IT training and will be able to take on new responsibilities as and when they arise.  Ongoing training allows your company to be on the cutting edge of your industry, able to offer better service for your clients.

Challenge of New Business

Setting up your own business is tough at most times but the current economic climate has provided a few more hurdles to overcome before you are able to get your business up and running.

There are a lot of things you need to take care of as a new business and here are some tips to help you prepare for the biggest challenges you are likely to face.

Finding Quality Employees

Even though there is a lot of unemployment around Europe it is still difficult, especially in some sectors, to find quality as well as qualified employees for your business.

There is a lot of staff available but majority is often not qualified for the position.

It is important to widen your search and make sure you offer good benefits for qualified applicants. You might also want to look into providing training for your employees, although this can be a difficult thing to do as you are just setting up your business.

Isolation

You also need to make sure that as you are setting up your business you don’t isolate yourself. Growing Business reports about the problems that entrepreneurs have these days that are influenced by getting emotionally isolated as well and not having enough people to talk to.

Therefore you need to make sure you have strong back up and support structure around you when you are setting up a business.

Try to ensure that you consult financial advisors and even get yourself a mentor to guarantee you have someone to talk to about business problems. Don’t get too stuck in the work and remember that you also need to have free time and some fun if you want to provide quality service to your customers.

Attracting New Customers

From early on you also need to make sure you are taking steps to guarantee you are constantly growing your client base. It is quite difficult at the moment to keep attracting new customers but in order to succeed this is something that you need to do.

You can improve your situation by creating a strong online presence and making the most out of the opportunities the internet has to offer.

See Also : How To Obtain The Elusive New Customer

Improving Cash Flow

It is still quite difficult to attract new investment to a new business and you might find problems in generating enough cash at start. It Biggest Challenges Facing New Businessesis really important that you try and find creative ways to improve your cash flow and learn ways to attract investment to your business.

Also make sure that you are using various different platforms that provide investment and funding. For instance, business funding with Dealmarket is a good option you can look into in order to make sure you can overcome any cash flow problems.

Managing Your Finances

Looking after your finances is difficult and takes a lot of effort, especially at the start. Thus it is a good idea to hire an accountant and financial advisor to help you ensure you are making the right choices when you are setting up your business.

For instance, selecting the right business type can save you from a lot of hassle later on and guarantee you are earning the most profit from your business.